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Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

ECE Graduate Student Receives Chancellor's Leadership Award

photo of Faith Johnson

Faith Johnson received the Chancellor's Leadership Award at this year's Gala on Wednesday, May 1, 2024, at 6:00pm at the Livingston Student Center. This award is given to a graduate student who exemplifies excellence and truly embodies a commitment to leadership and involvement on campus and/or in the community.

Faith's innovation and impact in research are divided among four projects in her graduate studies, advised by Prof. Kristin Dana. Faith developed a method for steering angle prediction in autonomous driving called Feudal Steering using hierarchical reinforcement learning, to predict steering angles from first-person, dash-cam images. Her second project is in collaboration with the Rutgers Cranberry Research Center in the area of precision agriculture. Faith's work achieves a vision-based cranberry ripening assessment using deep learning segmentation, fine-tuned to the task of segmentation robust to ripening. By characterizing the change in albedo over time, she quantifies and compares the phenotypical ripening traits of multiple cranberry varieties. Faith has also developed a framework to detect pedestrian behavior patterns as an important step towards autonomous agents that can navigate among humans. Faith’s current research in progress is on hierarchical visual navigation with latent topological maps. She is leveraging human-in-the-loop methods for building a visual navigation paradigm for the Clearpath Jackal robot.

Faith has been active and energetic in taking a leadership role in outreach activities in our NRT program.

L to R: US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Dean Thomas Farris, Faith Johnson

Faith was the first graduate student in our Rutgers National Research Traineeship (NRT) in Socially Cognizant Robotics for a Technology Enhanced Society (SOCRATES). In the summer of 2021, she presented our research program in an in-person plenary talk to US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway. Faith mentored two high school female interns in Prof. Dana's lab, whom she met with every Friday for an entire semester and helped shape their research project for the Rutgers-High Technology High School mentorship program. Faith attended weekly virtual organizational meetings for the SOCRATES NRT along with nine core faculty members as they got the program started at Rutgers during the Covid shutdown in 2020. She took the lead in founding the N2E Robotics club as part of the NRT, which offered online modules for teaching robotics to undergraduates.

Faith Johnson at Rutgers Day

For three years, Faith has led interactive robot demonstrations at Rutgers Day that inspire the NJ community and especially young students.

Please join us in congratulating Faith Johnson on this prestigious award!